Duke University, J.D., with high honors; Order of the Coif; Note and Comment Editor, Duke Law Journal
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, A.B.; John Motley Morehead Scholar
John Wester concentrates his practice in the trials and appeals of complex civil litigation. He has prosecuted and defended numerous class action cases in both federal and state courts and has extensive experience in the North Carolina Business Court.
John routinely handles cases with a high probability of going to trial. He often enters a case after it is underway, and in some instances, at the appellate stage. His trials and appeals encompass contract, corporate governance and shareholder rights disputes, federal securities claims, ERISA actions, unfair trade practice and trade secret disputes, tax controversies and employment discrimination claims.
John has served as lead defense counsel in several noteworthy cases, including before the U.S. Supreme Court in Ford Motor v. EEOC. The decision established precedent for ending employer liability in employment discrimination cases. He was also lead counsel in the North Carolina Supreme Court for three governors who successfully challenged the General Assembly for violating constitutional separation of powers in McCrory v. Berger.
In 1994, John was inducted as a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers.
In 2009-10, he served as president of the North Carolina Bar Association.
Honors & Awards
- Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, commercial litigation, 2003-19; labor & employment, 2005-16
- The Best Lawyers in America, recognized in the following seven categories: bet-the-company litigation, appellate practice, commercial litigation, litigation - intellectual property, litigation - labor and employment law, litigation - mergers and acquisitions, litigation - securities, 1993-2019
- Charlotte Bet-the-Company Litigation Lawyer of the Year, 2011
- Charlotte Appellate Practice Lawyer of the Year, 2012, 2015
- Charlotte Litigation - Labor & Employment Lawyer of the Year, 2012, 2013, 2018
- Charlotte Litigation - Mergers & Acquisitions Lawyer of the Year, 2013, 2014
- Charlotte Litigation - Securities Lawyer of the Year, 2019
- North Carolina Super Lawyers, business litigation, 2006-19; Top 10 North Carolina Super Lawyer, 2009-13, 2015; Top 25 Charlotte Super Lawyer, 2013-19
- Benchmark Litigation, Litigation Star, class actions, general commercial, labor and employment, intellectual property, securities, antitrust, energy and natural resources, FCPA and enforcement, product liability, insurance, 2012-19
- Business North Carolina, Legal Elite, litigation, 2007-08, 2011, 2013-15, 2019; appellate, 2018-19
- North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, North Carolina Lawyers Hall of Fame, 2018
- Duke Law Alumni Association, Charles S. Rhyne Award for Professional Achievement, 2017
- Legal Aid of North Carolina, Legal Services of Southern Piedmont and Council for Children's Rights, Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award, 2016
- Martindale-Hubbell, AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated
Served as lead trial and appellate counsel defending a class action by salaried employees of a NYSE company advancing ERISA, federal securities and state law claims for damages exceeding $250 million. After a lengthy trial and rulings by U.S. Court of Appeals, the federal trial court ruled no liability or injunctive relief, dismissing the case. Elmore v. Cone Mills Corp. (D.S.C.; 4th Cir.).
Served as lead trial and appellate counsel for a class of plaintiffs who sued to secure disability benefits denied by rulings of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Following a trial court decision restoring benefits to the plaintiff class, the 4th Circuit upheld merits but narrowed class membership. Won reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court for scope of class. On remand proceedings in trial court and 4th Circuit, approximately 75,000 disabled North Carolinians recovered benefits the trial court estimated at $470 million for one year. Hyatt v. Shalala (W.D.N.C.; 4th Cir.; Supreme Court).
Served as lead counsel before the North Carolina Supreme Court for three North Carolina governors in a successful case against the General Assembly over constitutional separation of powers in relation to environmental commission appointments. McCrory v. Berger.
Represented petitioners-taxpayers in Fowler v. Department of Revenue regarding a dispute over domicile following the sale of petitioners’ company. Petitioners prevailed at trial, and the North Carolina Business Court and North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court ruling.
Led defense of a credit union in a putative class action challenging disclosures to members. The trial court denied class certification and ultimately granted summary judgment for the credit union.
Represented an international shipping/logistics company sued in a nationwide class action, Foster v. CEVA Freight, LLC, alleging breach of contract between the company and approximately 2,000 independent contractors. Prior to engagement of our firm, the federal court for the Western District of North Carolina had certified claims for breach of contract and denied summary judgment. Plaintiffs’ expert on damages for the class submitted a report stating that damages exceeded $100 million. Following depositions of several class members and their expert, John and the firm’s team moved for decertification of the class. The Court reversed its class certification ruling, a decision that led to an end to the litigation.
Defended a national motorsports company against a minority shareholder’s suit to block a proposed merger, resulting in a dismissal by the North Carolina Business Court and affirmed by the North Carolina Court of Appeals. In a lengthy trial for appraisal of the merged company’s stock value, the jury returned a highly favorable verdict for the defense. Smith v. North Carolina Motor Speedway.
Represented a national industrial gas company against a competitor's claims arising out of the formation of a regional joint venture. The North Carolina Business Court upheld the validity of the joint venture. Praxair, Inc. v. Airgas, Inc.
Served as lead defense counsel for Ford Motor Company before the U.S. Supreme Court. The ruling for Ford established precedent for cutting off employer liability in employment discrimination cases. Ford Motor v. EEOC.
Defended a regional printing company against an EEOC action on behalf of employees alleging systemic age discrimination. Won summary judgment dismissing all claims; the 4th Circuit affirmed in full. On remand, secured 90 percent of employer’s attorneys' fees from the EEOC. EEOC v. Clay Printing.
Defended a national meatpacking company against a regional food broker’s allegations of unfair trade practices and interference with contract. The federal court jury returned a verdict for the defense on all claims. The 4th Circuit affirmed the jury’s verdict. MidSouth Brokerage Co. v. Dak Foods.
Served as lead counsel for Gov. James G. Martin and cabinet secretaries in a federal class action challenging the constitutionality of employment practices in state government. The 4th Circuit decertified the class and ruled that discharges of all policy-making state employees were presumptively lawful. Stott v. Haworth, (E.D.N.C.; 4th Cir.).
Defended North Carolina secretary of revenue in a federal class action alleging illegal taxation of state employee retirement benefits. Reversing the trial court, the 4th Circuit ruled that qualified immunity protected the cabinet secretary against all claims. Swanson v. Powers.
News & Events
- June 24, 2019
- May 6, 2019
- Jan. 28, 2019
- Jan. 2, 2019
- Dec. 21, 2018
- Dec. 6, 2018
- Nov. 16, 2018
- Aug. 23, 2018
- Aug. 15, 2018
- July 3, 2018
- June 26, 2018
- May 31, 2018
- April 20, 2018
- Jan. 30, 2018
- Jan. 30, 2018
- Jan. 3, 2018
- Nov. 2, 2017
- Eight Named “Lawyer of the Year”Aug. 16, 2017
- July 20, 2017
- May 31, 2017
- April 26, 2017
- March 2, 2017
- Jan. 26, 2017
- Dec. 16, 2016
- Dec. 9, 2016
- Nov. 18, 2016
- Nov. 9, 2016
- Nov. 3, 2016
- Nov. 2, 2016
- Oct. 27, 2016
- Sept. 2, 2016
- Eight Attorneys Named "Lawyer of the Year"Aug. 15, 2016
- June 2, 2016
- May 12, 2016
- Feb. 5, 2016
- Jan. 29, 2016
- Jan. 27, 2016
- Jan. 5, 2016
- Oct. 21, 2015
- Aug. 18, 2015
- Aug. 6, 2015
- Aug. 4, 2015
- July 2, 2015
- May 28, 2015
- May 10, 2015
- John R. Wester quoted in North Carolina Lawyers Weekly on "Bills would shake up NC judicial elections"April 29, 2015
- John R. Wester quoted in Greensboro News & Record on "Analysis: Ruling could rebalance power in N.C. government"March 22, 2015
- March 17, 2015
- John R. Wester quoted in The Charlotte Observer on "NC legislature’s appointment power argued in landmark case"March 5, 2015
- Jan. 21, 2015
- Eighteen Robinson Bradshaw Attorneys Named to North Carolina’s 2015 Legal Elite, Legal Elite Hall of FameJan. 8, 2015
- Dec. 23, 2014
- John R. Wester quoted in The Charlotte Observer on "Even juror pay at risk in squeezed North Carolina system"Dec. 14, 2014
- Nov. 13, 2014
- More Ranked Attorneys Than Any Other North Carolina Firm for Fifth Consecutive YearOct. 29, 2014
- Firm Topped North Carolina Rankings in Eight Practice AreasAug. 19, 2014
- Firm Has Most Charlotte Attorneys Named to List for Fourth Consecutive YearAug. 19, 2014
- May 23, 2014
- May 1, 2014
- Charlotte-based Firm Named to BTI Client Service A-Team 2014 Honor RollFeb. 10, 2014
- Jan. 21, 2014
- Eighteen Robinson Bradshaw Attorneys Included Among North Carolina’s 2014 ‘Legal Elite,’ ‘Legal Elite Hall of Fame’Jan. 6, 2014
- Dec. 9, 2013
- John R. Wester and Thomas P. Holderness Featured in North Carolina Lawyers Weekly on "Members Only: Plaintiffs must qualify for their own class"Nov. 25, 2013
- More Ranked Attorneys Than Any Other North Carolina Firm For Fourth Consecutive YearOct. 29, 2013
- Aug. 15, 2013
- Aug. 15, 2013
- May 24, 2013
- Six Shareholders Among State’s Top 100 Attorneys, Two in Top 10Jan. 18, 2013
- Nineteen Robinson Bradshaw Attorneys Included Among North Carolina’s 2013 ‘Legal Elite,’ ‘Legal Elite Hall of Fame’Jan. 7, 2013
- Nov. 12, 2012
- More Ranked Attorneys Than Any Other North Carolina Firm For Third Consecutive YearNov. 9, 2012
- Charlotte Firm Named One of Four ‘Recommended’ Appellate Litigation Firms In North CarolinaNovember 9, 2012
- Firm Once Again Has Most Charlotte Attorneys Named to ListOct. 2, 2012
- Aug. 23, 2012
- John R. Wester quoted in North Carolina Lawyers Weekly on "Federal judge decertifies $100 million class-action suit against trucking company"Aug. 10, 2012
- June 8, 2012
- Feb. 6, 2012
- Jan. 28, 2012
- Seven Shareholders Among State’s Top 100 Attorneys, Two in Top 10Jan. 23, 2012
- The Charlotte Observer, December 8, 2011
- Charlotte-based Firm Has More Ranked Lawyers Than Any Other North Carolina FirmNov. 16, 2011
- Thirteen Robinson Bradshaw Attorneys Recognized as Best Lawyers’ ‘2012 Charlotte Lawyers of the Year’Robinson Bradshaw Receives 14 Awards in 2012 RankingOct. 25, 2011
- Sept. 1, 2011
- Charlotte Firm Leads All Other N.C. Firms in Ranked Attorneys, No. 1 Practice Areas for Third-Straight YearJune 14, 2011
- MSNBC.com, March 27, 2011
- Seven Shareholders Included Among State’s Top 100 Attorneys, Two in the Top 10Jan. 21, 2011
- Twenty-One Robinson Bradshaw Attorneys Named Among North Carolina’s ‘Legal Elite,’ ‘Legal Elite Hall of Fame’Jan. 12, 2011
- Wilmington Star-News, Jan. 5, 2011
- Oct. 25, 2010
- Oct. 19, 2010
- Aug. 9, 2010
- Twenty-Two Robinson Bradshaw Attorneys Named to Chambers USA, Most in North Carolina for Second Straight YearCharlotte-Based Firm Again Recognized as State Leader in Eight Practice AreasJune 11, 2010
- The Buddy System: How John ‘Buddy’ Wester’s disarming nature earned him a good name and the North Carolina Bar Association presidencyFebruary 2010
- Forty-Six Robinson Bradshaw Attorneys Named North Carolina Super Lawyers, North Carolina Rising Stars for 2010Jan. 28, 2010
- Aug. 10, 2009
- June 27, 2009
- June 18, 2009
- Jan. 23, 2009
- Dec. 31, 2008
- Sept. 19, 2008
- September 8, 2008
- June 14, 2008
- Jan. 23, 2008
- Nov. 21, 2007
- Sept. 7, 2007
- June 15, 2007
- Jan. 26, 2007
- Dec. 31, 2006
- Sept. 6, 2006
- June 2, 2006
- Jan. 18, 2006
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- May 1, 2019Class Actions Brief Blog
- March 1, 2019American College of Trial Lawyers Task Force on Judicial Independence
- Dec. 15, 2017The Charlotte Observer
- July 7, 2017Class Actions Brief Blog
- April 15, 2017North State Journal
- Feb. 24, 2017Class Actions Brief Blog
- Nov. 26, 2013Robinson Bradshaw Publication
- November 2011Westlaw Journal - Class Action
- Jan. 5, 2011Charlotte Observer
- The President's Perspective: Our Judiciary – 2.46% of the State Budget: This Is a “Co-Equal” Branch of Government?May/June 2010North Carolina Lawyer, NCBA
- The President's Perspective: It's Time We All Agree on the Need for Merit SelectionMarch/April 2010North Carolina Lawyer, NCBA
- American College of Trial Lawyers, Judicial Independence Committee, Chair, 2019-present
- American College of Trial Lawyers, Task Force on Judicial Independence, Vice Chair, 2018-19
- Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism, 2014-18
- North Carolina Bar Association, Appellate Rules Committee, Chair, 2003-05; Committee for Judicial Independence, Co-chair, 2010-14
- Chief Justice's Commission on the North Carolina Business Court, Appellate Process Committee, Chair, 2002-04
- American College of Trial Lawyers, North Carolina Chair, 2004-06
- American Bar Foundation Fellow
- Legal Aid of North Carolina and Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, Access to Justice Council, Chair, 2012-present
- Higher Education Works, Board of Directors, 2019-present
- Lynnwood Foundation, Board of Directors, 2007-present
- North Carolina Museum of History, Board of Directors, 2012-present
- Duke Law School, Board of Visitors, 2002-present
- University of North Carolina, Board of Visitors, 2004-08
- Mecklenburg County Bar, Board of Directors, 2006-09
- Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, Board of Directors, 1999-2005
- Arts & Science Council, Chair, 1988-89
- ArtsTeach, Inc., Chair, 2000-02